Volunteer Appreciation: Mary Dunn

By Colleen Kelley

Mary Dunn has been volunteering at the center for five and a half years and has assisted Hitchcock staff with a broad range of countless activities: mailings, program registrations, library shelving, cleaning and organizing materials, decorating rooms for Enchanted Forest, cutting and crafting endless children program materials. She has even drawn her husband in to projects on occasion, to build some beautiful wooden shelves, and repair a very well loved miniature tree house used by our pre-school program.


Mary’s background includes work as a college administrator. Her well-honed management skills, communications, and grace under pressure are a direct benefit to her friendly and welcoming interactions with our community, whether it’s families in the visitor’s center or answering questions on the phone.

After reflecting on what drew her to the Hitchcock Center, Mary said, “Having grown up spending loads of time outdoors (biking, ponding, camping), and sharing similar experiences with our son, I thought that volunteering at the Hitchcock Center just seemed to be natural when we moved to Amherst. The Center’s focus on helping connect children with the world of nature around us, and teaching why it is so important, just makes such sense to me. I love hearing the sounds of children’s discoveries, and I can’t help but smile when I see them damp and muddy from “mucking about” outside. Hopefully they will become thoughtful, involved stewards of our world – and if my small part volunteering helps that happen in anyway, then my time has not only been fun, but worthwhile!”


Mary is so knowledgeable about natural happenings season to season and about our educational approach that she is able to create and post our bi-monthly bulletin board outside the front door at the center, alerting visitors to natural happenings on our trails. She says, “Researching and designing the display case bulletin boards is definitely one of my favorite jobs.”

Volunteers like Mary go beyond their call of duty. Mary remembers, “Careful moving of individual ladybugs into 250 small plastic containers was certainly one of my more unusual tasks!” But more than that, Mary has showed up as “the good fairy” – volunteering to sew together a beautiful quilt for a baby born to one of the staff, bringing home a broken pond net for special surgery so it can be used longer, offering to fill in when we are in between staff hiring and need help in the office.

We look forward to our Tuesday mornings being greeted by Mary at the front desk swapping stories about our gardening adventures, our dogs, and natural events. We are all so grateful to her for her generosity as a Hitchcock volunteer!

Colleen Kelley is an Education Director at the Hitchcock Center. She provides strategic oversight and direction of the Center’s comprehensive environmental education programs. She stays up-to-date with the best practices of environmental education and provides professional development to formal and informal educators in the field. Colleen also directs the Center’s internship program.

One response to “Volunteer Appreciation: Mary Dunn”

  1. Bridgit Litchfield says:

    I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Mary through HCE. In addition to her invaluable skills as a dynamic, generous, top-notch volunteer, she is a compassionate, cheerful, thoroughly wonderful person to be around.

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